Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1920s’ Category

Feast of Blessed Augustine Thevarparampil (October 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Augustine Thevarparampil

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED AUGUSTINE THEVARPARAMPIL (APRIL 1, 1891-OCTOBER 16, 1973)

Indian Roman Catholic Priest and “Good Shepherd of the Dalits”

Blessed Augustine Thevarparampil, born in Ramapuram, Kerala, India, on April 1, 1891, ministered to “Untouchables” in India.  He came from a Roman Catholic family.  Our saint, the youngest of five children of Itty Iype and Eliswa, and baptized as an infant, was a nephew of two priests, Joseph and Thomas.  Blessed Augustine was short, hence his nickname, “Kurjachan,” or “little priest.”  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood on December 17, 1921, was initially an assistant parish priest at Ramapuram (1921-1923) then at Kanadad (1923-1926).  He began to minister to Dalits at Ramapuram when he returned there to recuperate from an illness, in 1926.  He also opened schools for them because public schools did not admit Dalits.  Blessed Augustine was a priest to this population until he died at Ramapuram on October 16, 1973.  He was 82 years old.

Blessed Augustine, who followed God’s call to care for the least of marginalized in society, became a Servant of God (1987), a Venerable (2004), and a Blessed (2006).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARUTHAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MAYPHERKAT, AND MISSIONARY TO PERSIA

THE FEAST OF AMILIE JULIANE, COUNTESS OF SCHWARZBRG-RUDOLSTADT, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNARD OF PARMA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF JOHN OWEN SMITH, UNITED METHODIST BISHOP IN GEORGIA

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Blessed Roman Lysko (October 14)   2 comments

Above:  Blessed Roman Lysko 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROMAN MARIA LYSKO (AUGUST 19, 1914-OCTOBER 14, 1949)

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1949

Alternative feast day = April 2

Roman Maria Lysko, born a subject of the Russian Empire near Lviv, Ukraine, on August 19, 1914, spent most of his 35 years serving God.  Our saint’s father was Father Volodymyr Lysko, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest and a member of a branch of the Roman Catholic Church with married priests.  Our saint’s mother was Ivanka Cohelsky.  Roman followed in his father’s footsteps; he studied theology in Lviv and, on August 28, 1941, became a priest during what the Soviet government called the Great Patriotic War (World War II, to the rest of us).  Our saint, active in youth ministry, also had a wife (Neonila Huniovsky) and three children (Oleksander, Zvenyslava, and Chrystyna Lysko).  Roman, arrested by agents of the NKVD for his faith on September 8, 1949, and incarcerated in Lviv, sang Psalms in prison.  His jailers thought he was out of his mind.  Roman, tortured, died of starvation on October 14, 1949.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 2001 then a Blessed later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Roman Lysko

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with yo and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Vincent Taylor (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Part of The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VII (1951), 114

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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VINCENT TAYLOR (JANUARY 1, 1887-1968)

British Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

Vincent Taylor comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the article, “The Life and Ministry of Jesus” (Volume VII, 1951).

Taylor, born in Edenfield, Lancashire, England, was an active scholar for nearly half a century–1920 to 1968.  His family moved to Accrington, in 1890; there he finished growing to adulthood.  Our saint studied for the Methodist ministry at Richmond College.  He was a parish minister from 1910 to 1930 and during World War II.  Along the way he earned his doctorate from the University of London (1922), worked as Tutor in New Testament Language and Literature at Wesley College, Leeds (1930f), and served as the Principal of the same college (1936-1953).

Taylor was conservative yet not fundamentalist; he rejected Biblical infallibility.

  1. He recognized the existence of disagreements within the New Testament.  Some books supplemented others, he insisted.
  2. He, a practitioner of textual, form, source, and historical criticism, rejected Bultmannian skepticism regarding the historicity of the four canonical Gospels.  At the same time, Taylor did not reject Bultmannian demythologizing completely.
  3. Our saint neither defended miracle stories uncritically nor rejected them; he knew the limits of what history could prove and disprove.  Taylor, in a Kierkegaardian leap of faith, accepted the Virgin Birth of Jesus, defending it on dogmatic, not historical, grounds.
  4. Our saint argued that Luke incorporated Q into the Gospel of Luke.
  5. Taylor also recognized the presence of multiple theories of the atonement in the New Testament.  He, not seeking to harmonize them, rejected Penal Substitutionary Atonement, criticized the Classic Theory of the Atonement also, and affirmed the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Taylor wrote:

The New Testament is not a fortuitous collection of separate writings, but a medium in which the significance of Christ, as the Word of God and the Saviour of men, emerges clearly into the light of day.

Taylor also had a balanced view of individual and societal sinfulness, and interpreted the Bible in the context of his times.  He, taking into account the evils of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, interpreted the “obey the government” passage in Romans 13 in a particular way.  St. Paul the Apostle, Taylor argued, obviously had not considered mass-murdering dictators or the possibility of the Holocaust.  Therefore, our saint wrote, nobody should permit Romans 13 to stand in the say of resisting tyrants.  He, understanding that sin is both individual and collective, also wrote of the necessity of both individual and collective salvation.

Major works by Taylor included The Gospel According to Saint Mark (1952), Doctrine and Evangelism (1953), and The Epistle to the Romans (1955).

Taylor, aged 81 years, died in 1968.

Taylor’s argument regarding Romans 13 rings true with me.  I cannot imagine God condemning anyone for refusing to obey Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, or Pol Pot–dictators with extremely bloody hands.  After all, the commandment to effect social justice is always binding.  Nevertheless, I recall reading a chilling argument to the contrary in the October 30, 1974, issue of The Presbyterian Journal, the magazine that had midwifed the birth of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) the previous year.  The editor, G. Aiken Taylor, approved of the following statement, submitted by a reader, one J. B. Finneran, “an elect lady from Simpsonville, MD”:

The Bible commands us to obey earthly authority, for God establishes governments….When a Herod or a Hitler comes into power, we must thereby assume this is the Lord’s plan; He will use even such as these to put His total plan into effect for the good of His people here on earth.

–Page 11

I affirm the sovereignty of God, too, but is there no good reason to resist tyrants, according to J. B. Finneran and G. Aiken Taylor?  Their argument is law and order on steroids.

Vincent Taylor, being a mortal, was incorrect on some points, of course.  He was, however, a man who loved God with his intellect and who got much right.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Vincent Taylor and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Claus Westermann (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copy of Isaiah 40-66:  A Commentary (1969), October 10, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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CLAUS WESTERMANN (OCTOBER 7, 1909-JUNE 11, 2000)

German Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar

Claus Westermann comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Biblical Studies section of my library, which his volume, Isaiah 40-66 (1969), graces.

Westermann, born in Berlin, Germany, on October 7, 1909, was a son of Diedrich and Katharina Westermann, formerly missionaries to Africa.  Our saint’s father had become a professor of African languages in Berlin by 1909.

Westermann became one of the major Old Testament scholars of the twentieth century.  He, educated at the Universities of Tübingen and Marburg, served as pastor of a church in Berlin-Dahlem prior to World War II.  Our saint, drafted into the German Army in 1940, served in Russia.  He resumed advanced studies after the war.  Westermann graduated from the University of Zurich with his doctorate in 1949; his dissertation was, “The Praise of God in the Psalms.”  Our saint, from 1949 to 1952 the pastor of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin, began to teach full-time in 1953.  He joined the faculty of the University of Heidelberg in 1958.  Our saint retired 20 years later.  The student of Gerhard von Rad wrote more than 70 published works.

Consider Isaiah 40-66 (1969), O reader.

Westermann, who accepted that there were three Isaiahs, acknowledged internal disagreements within chapters, as in Chapter 66.  He identified discrepancies within 66:18-24:  verses 18, 19, and 21 indicating a mission to the nations, and verses 20 and 22-24 emphasizing the primacy of worship in Jerusalem.  The second section amended the first, our saint wrote.  The presence of the two traditions, Westermann insisted,

made terribly clear that in the post-exilic period what people had to say about the way in which God was going to act upon Israel and upon the other nations lost all unanimity and took two different roads.

–Page 429

Westermann continued:

In the light of the New Testament our only course is to agree with the first, the one which proclaims the great missionary move out to the nations.  This means, then, that we must be critical of vv. 20, 22ff.  But over and above this, an Old Testament critic is bound to say that a theology which ordains one place of eternal annihilation for all God’s enemies along with the perpetuation of a worship restricted to one place is alien to the central core of the Old Testament.  Here, in the interests of rendering absolute a worship that is tied to a place and in the counterpart which the verses give this, the avowal of God’s action in history and towards the people who are travelling onwards, the avowal of very foundation, is abandoned.

–Page 429

Thus ended that commentary.

Westermann, aged 90 years, died in Heidelberg on the Day of Pentecost, June 11, 2000.  His wife, Anna, had predeceased him in 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Claus Westermann and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Herbert G. May (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copy of The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version, October 10, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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HERBERT GORDON MAY (NOVEMBER 26, 1904-OCTOBER 7, 1977)

U.S. Biblical Scholar and Translator

Herbert G. May comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of Ezekiel in Volume VI (1956).

May was an influential scholar and translator of the Bible.  He, born in Fair Haven, Vermont, on November 26, 1904, graduated from Wesleyan University (1927).  After earning his B.D. degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1930, he went to work on his Ph.D. (The University of Chicago, 1934).  May was Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at Oberlin College (1934-1970) and Vanderbilt University (1966-1970).  In retirement he taught at Yale Divinity School and continued to teach at Oberlin College.  Our saint, one of the translators of the Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952; Apocrypha, 1957; RSV II, 1971), chaired the translation committee (1966-1974) and its Old Testament section (1960-1977).  He also helped to edit the Oxford Bible Atlas (1962), The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (1962), and The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (1973, 1977).

Our saint, aged 72 years, died in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 7, 1977.  His wife, Helen (February 8, 1902-November 3, 1977), died shortly thereafter.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Herbert G. May and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Erik Routley (October 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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ERIK REGINALD ROUTLEY (OCTOBER 31, 1917-OCTOBER 8, 1982)

English Congregationalist Hymnodist

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…”pop” is normally utterly uncritical of musical statements which are pretentious, unbalanced, and foolish.  It exaggerates, sometimes cretinously.  It permits, and encourages, fantasies of grandeur.  It associates only too easily with extravagance and infantilism.

–Erik Routley, Twentieth Century Church Music (London:  Herbert Jenkins, 1964), 206

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That accurate statement gets to the point.

Erik Routley comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via hymnody.

Routley, born in Sussex, England, on October 31, 1917, became a master hymnodist.  His parents were John Routley and Eleanor Routley.  Our saint graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford (B.A., 1940 M.A., 1943), with an emphasis in classics.  Routley, ordained a minister in the Congregational Union of England and Wales in 1943, married Margaret Scott the following year.  They had three children, born in 1947, 1949, and 1953.  Routley graduated from Oxford with his B.D. in 1946; his thesis became The Church and Music.  Six years later he earned his doctorate at Oxford; his dissertation became the basis of The Music of Christian Hymnody (1957).  Meanwhile, Routley was a parish minister in Wednesbury and Dantford (1943-1948) and at Edinburgh (1959-1974).  During the interim he served as Lecturer in Church History, Librarian, Chaplain, and Director of Music at Mansfield College, Oxford.  Our saint also edited The Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland from 1948 to 1974.  If that were not enough, he founded the Guild of Congregational Organists in 1951 and served as President from 1951 to 1959 and from 1970 to 1972.  Our saint became a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music in 1965, too.  Furthermore, Routley chaired the Doctrine and Worship Committee of the newly-merged United Reformed Church, starting in 1972.

Routley, who spoke at U.S. seminaries from 1962 to 1975, moved to the United States in 1975.  He became Professor of Church Music at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey.  He also traveled across the country, lecturing, preaching, and leading workshops and hymn festivals.  Our saint, a master of hymnody, composed 34 hymns and wrote 37 books.  He understood the link between hymnody and theology, recognized changes to old harmonies, and knew the lyrics of hymns well.

Routley was not shy about expressing his opinions regarding hymnody.  In 1964, for example, he excoriated the music at Billy Graham crusades:

In secular life the natural pressure of the new “pop” drives out old “pop”.  The fittest survives–and what is the fittest of this week’s “pop” to survive into the next generation nobody can possibly tell by examination.  But a church has a disastrous squirrel-like propensity for hoarding.  Everything that has been put to sacred use must be preserved:  to throw it away seems to be sacrilege.  So music whose proper office is to be here today and gone tomorrow (and this is not to call it bad music) is hoarded and subjected to constant use for which its strength is simply unequal.

This is why “pop” there is a legitimate exaggeration, even caricature, of colour and emotion.  It is vulgar.  Of course it is vulgar!  It is as vulgar as the exaggerated colours of an advertisement for detergent.  It is designed to make an immediate impact and then go its way.  To repeat it, go on wallowing in it, is like putting up that advertisement for detergent in your drawing room and keeping it there thirty years.

Twentieth Century Church Music, 201

Routley, aged 66 years, died in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 8, 1982.  His great unfinished project was Rejoice in the Lord:  A Hymn Companion to the Scriptures (1985), the next official hymnal of the Reformed Church in America.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Erik Routley)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Harry Emerson Fosdick (October 5)   5 comments

Above:  Harry Emerson Fosdick

Image in the Public Domain

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HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (MAY 24, 1878-OCTOBER 5, 1969)

U.S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

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…we cannot harmonize Christ himself with modern culture.  What Christ does to modern culture is to challenge it.

–Harry Emerson Fosdick, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism” (1935); quoted in Dewitte Holland, ed., Sermons in American History:  Selected Issues in the American Pulpit, 1630-1967 (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1971), 377

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Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most influential ministers in the United States of America during the twentieth century.  He, controversial in life, has remained so postmortem.

Fundamentalism is inherently ahistorical.  This is not an idea original to me.  Consider, O reader, Karen Armstrong:

…fundamentalism is ahistorical:  it believes that Abraham, Moses and the later prophets all experienced their God in exactly the same way as people do today.

A History of God:  The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1994), xx

One might also consider G. E. Mendenhall, author of The Tenth Generation (1973):

Biblical fundamentalism, whether Jewish or Christian, cannot learn from the past because in so many respects the defense of presently accepted ideas about religion is thought to be the only purpose of biblical narrative.  It must, therefore, support ideas of comparatively recent origin–ones that usually have nothing to do with the original meaning or intention of biblical narrative because the context is so radically different.

–Quoted in W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah:  A Modern Commentary, Vol. IV, Numbers (New York:  Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), xiv-xv

Fosdick, born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1878, came from a devout family with a tradition of valuing education.  His father was Frank Sheldon Fosdick.  Our saint’s mother was Amy Inez Weaver.  His brother, Raymond B. Fosdick, grew up to become an esteemed attorney, as well as a friend and associate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960).  Our saint, baptized at the age of seven years, thought about becoming a missionary before deciding on domestic ministry.  He, having graduated from high school in 1896, matriculated at Colgate University.  He graduated with his A.B. degree four years later, and was the class poet.  Fosdick, ordained a Baptist minister in 1903, graduated from Union Theological Seminary the following year.  He married Florence Allen Whitney (d. 1964) on August 16, 1904.  The couple had two daughters.

Fosdick served in a few congregations and taught at Union Theological Seminary.  He, from 1904 to 1915 the pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, New Jersey, began his 38-year-long stint of teaching practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in 1908.  He was an instructor (1908-1915), a professor (1915-1917, 1919-1934), and a part-time faculty member (1934-1946).  In 1917-1919 our saint worked as a chaplain with the Y.M.C.A. in France.  After World War I he returned to New York City, to begin duties as assistant minister (1919-1925) of First Presbyterian Church.

Fosdick became a central figure in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a denomination to which he did not belong.  In 1922 he preached a seminal sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”  He condemned the intolerance of fundamentalism and criticized minor theological disputes (such as arguments about the Virgin Birth) as distractions

when the world is perishing for the lack of the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 347

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., liked the sermon so much that he paid for the printing and mailing of the text to every Protestant minister in the United States.  Clarence Macartney (1879-1957), conservative pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, replied via a sermon that year.  He asked, “Shall Unbelief Win?” and accused Fosdick of heresy and intolerance.  After much controversy, Fosdick had to resign in 1925.

Above:  Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, New York

Photographer = Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rockefeller, Jr., offered Fosdick another position, though.  Our saint accepted the pastorate of Park Avenue Baptist Church on four conditions, which he established:

  1. That baptism by immersion cease to be a requirement for membership;
  2. That the congregation become interdenominational, accepting Christians of all creeds;
  3. That the congregation move to a less swanky neighborhood; and
  4. That the initial salary cap for Fosdick be $5000 ($69,900, adjusted for inflation, to 2017 currency).

Above:  Riverside Church and Grant’s Tomb, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Rockefeller, Jr., financed the construction of the Gothic edifice of the renamed Riverside Church, located near Columbia University and Grant’s Tomb.  The congregation’s first Sunday in the new building, dedicated in 1931, was October 5, 1930.  Fosdick wrote the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” for the occasion.  For 15 years 1931-1946) Fosdick was the most influential Protestant minister in the United States.  For 20 years (1926-1946) he preached on national radio.  He retired from Riverside Church in 1946.

Fosdick was a prolific author of books and articles.  Some of these were volumes of sermons.  Many other books were psychological-theological in nature.  Examples of these included Twelve Tests of Character (1923) and On Being a Real Person (1943).

Fosdick, who preferred modernism to fundamentalism, was critical of modernism, too.  In 1935 he preached a sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism.”  Modernism, he said, was a necessary advance.  However, our saint stated, the church needed to move beyond it, for modernism was imperfect.  It was simultaneously preoccupied with intellectualism and too sentimental, according to Fosdick.  He also argued that modernism had

largely eliminated from its faith the God of moral judgment.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 373

Our saint also asserted that modernism had accommodated too much to the world that it (modernism) had placed people at the center and relegated God to an advisory capacity.  Modernism, Fosdick argued, had also surrendered the moral high ground.  Our saint was arguing for Neo-orthodoxy.

Fosdick stood up for a range of controversial positions.  His adopted pacifism, evident in his hymn, “The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930), was more popular at certain times than others.  Our saint also advocated for the civil rights of African Americans when doing so was often unpopular.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968) thought of Fosdick as a prophetic figure.  Fosdick, eschewing anti-Semitism, also sympathized with displaced Palestinians.  He, not a Zionist, opposed the creation of the State of Israel.

Fosdick wrote four hymns, all of which have remained germane:

  1. God of Grace and God of Glory” (1930),
  2. The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930),
  3. O God, in Restless Living” (1931), and
  4. O God, Who to a Loyal Home” (1956).

Fosdick, aged 91 years, died in Bronxville, New York, on October 5, 1969.

Perhaps the précis of Fodick’s life was the following excerpt from “God of Grace and God of Glory”:

Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore;….

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SCARLETT, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSOURI, AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Harry Emerson Fosdick,

and we ray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 720

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